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Know these diabetes numbers

know these diabetes numbersWhether you are living with Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or are looking to prevent the disease, there are some key health numbers to keep an eye on. Understanding what these numbers mean and how you can keep them in check can help you manage or prevent Type 2 diabetes, as well as improve other areas of your health.

Understand your diabetes numbers

Below are some important numbers to pay attention to if you have Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Keeping track of these numbers can help you manage your health.

Blood sugar

Your blood sugar is a measure of how much sugar (or glucose) is in your blood. A hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test can help you measure your average blood sugar over the past two to three months. The results from this test can be used to help you and your doctor manage your diabetes.

HbA1c results are reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels have been. Target HbA1c levels can vary, but the goal for most adults with diabetes is a value less than 7%.

Your doctor will let you know how often you need an HbA1c test, but doctors usually recommend testing at least yearly. You may need to test more frequently if you are changing your diabetes treatment or not meeting your treatment goals.

HbA1c tests are covered at little or no cost to Blue Cross of Idaho members.

The American Diabetes Association recommends these blood sugar levels based on your diagnosis:

Result1 A1C Test Fasting Blood Sugar Test Glucose Tolerance Test Random Blood Sugar Test
Diabetes 6.5% or more 126 mg/dL or more 200 mg/dL or more 200 mg/dL or more
Prediabetes 5.7-6.4% 100-125 mg/dL 140-199 mg/dL N/A
Normal Less than 5.7% 99 mg/dL or lower 140 mg/dL or lower N/A

1Results may differ for gestational diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your results.

Blood pressure

Two out of every three people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. If you have diabetes, you are also at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level can help lower your risk. High blood pressure often doesn’t show any symptoms, so you might not know if your blood pressure is high.

The best way to check your blood pressure is with a blood pressure reading using a blood pressure cuff. A blood pressure reading tells you how hard your blood is pushing against your arteries as your heart beats and rests. Getting a blood pressure reading at your yearly wellness exam with your doctor can help you keep an eye on your blood pressure.

Here are some blood pressure ranges to keep in mind:

  • Healthy blood pressure: Lower than 120/80
  • Early high blood pressure: Between 120/80 and 140/90
  • High blood pressure: Greater than 140/90

Blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your liver produces. High cholesterol levels can put you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes can be prone to having high cholesterol.

Blue Cross of Idaho covers cholesterol screening at little or no cost for members.

Here is an example of healthy and high-risk cholesterol levels:

Range Total LDL (Bad) HDL (Good) Triglycerides
Healthy Level Less than 200 Less than 100 50 or more Less than 150
Borderline-High 200 to 239 130 to 159 40 to 50 for men
50 to 60 for women
150 to 199
High Risk 240 or more 160 to 189 Less than 40 for men
Less than 50 for women
200 to 499
Very High 190 or more 500 or more

Additional diabetes-related screenings

Here are some other important screenings that you should get regularly to keep an eye on your diabetes.

Dilated eye exam

Diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy, which is when the blood vessels and nerves in your eye are damaged due to elevated blood sugar levels. Over time, untreated diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss and blindness. These changes happen slowly, so you might not notice any symptoms until it is serious.

Getting an annual dilated eye exam can help detect and treat diabetic retinopathy. As part of this exam, your eye doctor will put eye drops in your eyes to enlarge your pupils to examine the back of your eye for signs of diabetes-related eye conditions.

Your eye doctor will recommend how often you need a dilated eye exam based on your results.

To get a dilated eye exam, you’ll need to visit an ophthalmologist, which is a medical eye doctor that specializes in eye disorders and diseases.

Diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) screening

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, make sure that you are monitoring your kidneys with this important screening so you can prevent kidney disease. Elevated blood glucose (blood sugar) levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, which can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

There are two important tests that can help screen the health of your kidneys:

  • A urine albumin-creatinine ratio (uACR) test to look for protein in urine
  • An estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) test to evaluate how well your kidneys are filtering waste

You should get each of these tests yearly to make sure your kidneys are healthy. Regular screening can also help catch any kidney issues early, when they are easier to treat.

Keep your doctor up to date

Managing a condition like diabetes or any other complex, chronic condition can mean that you go to a primary care provider (PCP), plus several specialists to help manage your health. When visiting your PCP, be sure to let them know about any specialist you are seeing, as well as what kinds of treatments you may be following or medications you are taking.

Keeping your PCP up to date will help them have a full picture of your health.  

Don’t have a doctor? We can help.

Blue Cross of Idaho members can find an in-network provider in a few different ways.

Use our member app

Log in to the Blue Cross of Idaho member app and select Find Care to search for care, at home or on the go. From there you can search for providers by entering their name into the search field, or select an option like Urgent Care or Medical Care to see a list of results.

On the web

Log in to your member account at members.bcidaho.com and select Find Care. There, you can search and find a list of providers in your network.

Call for help

Call the Blue Cross of Idaho Customer Service Department at the number on the back of your member ID card.

Written by: Tanya Wilson, a Clinical Quality Specialist and Registered Nurse at Blue Cross of Idaho. Tanya has more than 30 years of combined nursing experience across many clinical areas ranging from surgical to hospice care. She empowers people to take an active role in their healthcare.

Posted: December 21, 2022

Updated: November 8, 2023